At my local park where I walk my dog, they also host junior hockey on the weekends. As I was waiting for Albert to sniff every tree and goal post I watched families arrive for what must have been an under 10 mixed-gender match. It was cold and windy and I am thinking kudos to parents who do this at 8am on a bleak Saturday morning.
A well-dressed Dad hops out of his lovely car and says to his son, “Did you bring your jacket mate?”
Of course, the 10 year old boy said, “No.”
Dad said in a matter of fact way, “Well, I guess you will be cold then.”
He hands his son his shin guards and locks the car.
On the other side of the car park is a Mum with 3 kids (I am guessing that at least one did not belong to her). She is holding 3 jackets, 6 shin pads, 4 water bottles, a dog lead and a partridge in a pear tree. The kids skip off empty-handed.
I have thought about this scene a lot over the past 24 hours.
This is my conclusion:
- Women care too much
- They take on too much
- They overcomplicate things
- They carry shit that is not theirs to carry – jackets, emotions, responsibility, accountability, shame.
And I think this has got worse over the years.
During the ’70s, in summer my mum would pile us all in the car, including at least 3 neighbourhood kids and drive us to the beach. (Mettam’s Pool when we were little, Scarborough Beach as tweens). Her rule – we were allowed to carry 2 things. This normally meant our towel and thongs (flip-flops). Sometimes our thongs were sacrificed for a “foamy” surfboard.
She carried her towel and the umbrella and probably Andy’s “floatie” – he was 3! Nothing else.
For three solid hours, she would sit on the beach, watching us swim, until the Fremantle Doctor arrived making the water choppy and the beach unpleasant. Then she would march us across the blistering hot sand, into the stinking hot car and drive us home to spend the afternoon swimming in the pool.
- No water bottles
- No food
- No phone
- No bag (if she had a purse it was under the front seat of the car)
- No sunscreen (gasp)
- No entertainment
We did not stop on the way home for smashed avo and cappuccinos. Instead, she made us door stopper tomato sandwiches and lemon cordial. All homemade. To be honest we were probably dehydrated but no one was allowed inside the house and no one died. If we were thirsty we drank out of the hose.
This is not about parenting, nor is it about how life was simpler then.
It’s about women taking on too much.
It’s about boundaries.
It’s about recognising when you have picked up an issue that belongs to someone else.
It’s about making your staff dependent on you because you don’t let them be accountable for not remembering their metaphorical jackets.
It’s about making your kids/staff/team dependent on you because it makes YOU feel needed.
It’s about exhausting yourself by being useful, helpful, responsible.
It’s about caring too much about someone who doesn’t give a toss about you.
It’s about you doing all the thinking and all the remembering.
The Jeff Test
Take a moment to think about an issue – big or small that is on your mind. It is probably that thing at work or home that is making you resentful.
Then use the Jeff Test.
Jeff is a white, middle-aged, married, heterosexual male in a management/leadership role. He is not a narcissist like a guy. Just a regular nice bloke.
Say to yourself –
Would Jeff be sorting this issue out?
What would Jeff do in this situation?
Would Jeff still be worrying about this?
Would Jeff take on this responsibility?
And then Be More Jeff
I don’t want you to stop being your lovely, compassionate, empathetic self. But when THAT is exhausting you, I want you to be, just occasionally, more Jeff.
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I am endlessly curious with two successful businesses behind me. My blog shares what I see, what I know and random musings.